My stable of bikes is currently five, in order of how long I’ve owned them:
- Raleigh Crested Butte (2012)
- Schwinn Heavy Duti (2014)
- Bantam Rambleneur (2015)
- Raleigh Superbe (2016)
- Robin Hood path racer (2018)
All of them have done “commuting duty”, i.e. get me to and from work, run errands, pick up groceries, etc. But over the past year, I’ve started to categorize these bikes into two primary categories: commuter vs. non.
Why the split? Well, some of my bikes are better set up for utility cycling, while some of my bikes I prefer more for fun. This really comes down to baggage. The bikes that do more of the commuting are now set up with bags that are easy-on, easy off:
- The Crested Butte has a humongous Wald front rack for my humongous custom Treetop bag.
- The Heavy Duti has a smaller Wald front basket to hold my Rivendell Sackville basket bag. It also has a rear rack that can hold my Carradice panniers if I need extra capacity.
- The Superbe has a Pletscher “Clem” (designed by Rivendell) rear rack for those Carradice panniers.
Now why is this a big deal? Well, I live in a city where not only bike thievery is rampant, but thievery from bikes is also at a high. I’ve dealt with this personally: My Brooks B-67 saddle was swiped from my Worksman Low Gravity in 2012.* On Election Day 2016 a Treetop handlebar bag was yanked from my Superbe while parked in front of a grocery store. (This also meant the loss of moosemoose.) And sometime in 2017 my rolled up waxed rain cape was yanked from the Carradice Camper Longflap on the Superbe.
In the past I’ve left things like transverse saddlebags on my bike and hoped they didn’t get yanked while I was in the store or cafe. Nowadays I’m wary of that approach. When I ride my Robin Hood which can only carry a saddlebag, I make sure I remove the rear Carradice when I go inside, even though removal or installation takes a few minutes. Rather than deal with this pain than the pain of coming out and having it gone.
So I’ve been trying to use those three bikes listed above as my primary around-town machines, and the two others (Bantam, Robin Hood) as the more “special occasion” riders. I’d rather use the bikes where the bags are easy-on, easy-off for the workaday stuff.** I know it’s not the most positive mentality to have, but it’s the most pragmatic for Portland Oregon in 2019. Thankfully my commuter bikes are still cool and a joy to ride!
*Since then, I’ve made sure all my saddles have a good chain on them.
**Also, the Crested Butte and Heavy Duti have Abus rear wheel locks (cafe locks) and integrated chains, which I find particularly useful for city riding.